What comes to mind when you think about the word ‘prayer’?
Some reasons that many people struggle with the concept of prayer include:
- Prayer has become a religious term in our culture today
- We have a preconceived idea as to what kind of activity prayer involves and we can’t relate to that activity
- We may associate prayer with a group or person in the church who seem very spiritual and don’t think that we could ever be like that
- We feel inadequate when it comes to prayer.
The great news is—prayer is simple and you can be yourself with God!
The Journey Of Prayer
Prayer is a bit like Jesus inviting you into a mansion to spend time with Him. You enter one room, and its treasures captivate you. You could spend months there—and you do.
Gradually you realise that there are other rooms to explore with the Lord that contain different wonders. When you are ready, you can investigate them.
To help you get started on this exciting journey, or to reflect on what more might be available to you, here are 4 essential types of prayer:
1. Relating Prayer
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Ex 33:11).
In the relating type of prayer, we approach God as our friend.
Just as in any relationship, you can choose whether or not you relate at a surface level or whether you will trust enough to disclose the real issues in your heart.
Sometimes people hold back from doing this because they think that God knows everything about them anyway, so why tell Him how they feel? However, God wants to share an intimate relationship with us—He wants us to tell Him what is really going on inside.
Relating with God also includes dealing with anything that might get in the way. This means:
- Forgiving anyone who has hurt you or done you wrong (Mark 11:25) and
- Repenting of any sin—wrong thoughts, acts or attitudes in your life (Matt 6:12).
We can also take time to thank Him for what He has done through Jesus and in our lives, just as we would thank a friend for something they have done.
As with any friendship, meaningful communication in prayer is not just one way. Besides talking to God, we can also listen to what He is saying. This is where journaling can be beneficial, as it enables us to keep a record of what God is saying to us.
2. Requesting Prayer
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)
In this kind of prayer, we relate to God as our Father. (Matt 7:9-11)
Prayer is where transactions are made that will bring about needed change in your life and in the lives of those you care about.
The Bible calls this ‘petition.’ This is where we make requests about people and needs that concern us. We are looking for God’s help and intervention. We ask in Jesus name. (John 15:16, John 16:23-26)
Through relating prayer and studying the Bible, we discover God’s plans for our lives. In requesting prayer, we ask for His plans to come to fruition. (John 15:7, 1 John 5:14-15)
3. Receiving Prayer
‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’ (John 7:37)
Here, we relate to God as our Source—our life-giver and baptiser in the Holy Spirit
This type of prayer is not focused on tasks or requests, but is about enjoying and benefiting from God’s presence. Ps 91:1, Ps 63:1-8
Receiving prayer enables you to be refreshed and filled with the Holy Spirit. It includes:
- Personal times of worship or adoration (having accompanying music can help but is not necessary)
- Positioning yourself to receive a fresh infilling of His Spirit
- Enjoying God’s presence without agenda
Like intimate friends or family members who can enjoy each other’s company in silence, you do not always have to talk to God. In receiving prayer, your relationship has moved beyond the place where you have to fill it with words.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Our natural tendency in our busy, service-oriented life is to downgrade the importance of this kind of prayer. However, it is a vital way to receive power to live the Christian life. Placing yourself in a position to be receiving from God in prayer may be the most unselfish thing you can do.
4. Ruling Prayer
‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matt 6:10)
In this kind of prayer, we relate to God as King.
Ruling prayer is where we discover and use the authority God has given us as His sons and daughters.
We remember that God is and has the ultimate authority. We praise Him for who He is, and the power that He has.
We then step up to use the authority God has given us in the name of Jesus. We get bold, reminding the Lord of His promises and declaring His Word for our lives. We speak out scriptures and prophetic promises that have personal meaning and application.
In ruling prayer, we are saying we are not putting up with the status quo of circumstances and our enemies. We can address forces of darkness, resisting Satan’s plans for our lives, or the lives of others (Eph 6:10-18). We exercise spiritual warfare.
The benefit of this type of prayer is that it helps us grow in our spiritual authority. Through ruling prayer, we can shift situations where others or we have become immobilised. It helps us break through to a better place.
If this kind of prayer is new to you, trying it with others might be helpful (Matt 18:18-19). Remember it is okay to write out prayers and proclamations and to read them when you are learning.
Questions to Consider
Note that although I have identified these as four distinct types of prayer, they can be used together. Here are some questions to reflect on:
- Which type of prayer are you most familiar with?
- Which type of prayer are you least familiar with?
- Which types of prayer could you focus on to bring positive change or refreshment in your devotional life?
© Helen Calder 2010 Enliven Publishing